Button takes Brazil; Vettel wins third world title

Sebastian Vettel celebrates his third world championship Sunday in Brazil after finishing in sixth. Photo courtesy of Press Association

INTERLAGOS, Brazil-After winning the opening race in Australia back in March, Jenson Button ended the last season race in Brazil under light rain and an advantage on lap 55 when Nico Hulkenberg struck Lewis Hamilton, to win his third Grand Prix Sunday at Interlagos. Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa took second and third respectively, but by finishing sixth, Sebastian Vettel clinched his third world drivers’ championship one week after his Red Bull team clinched the constructor’s title.

“First of all, I would like to congratulate the whole team” said race winner Button afterwards. “We started with our ups and downs, and to win this race was fantastic, so congratulations guys (meaning his team) and we fought with Ferrari for second in the championship, but they were too strong. Again, thank you very much”.

Vettel did win the title, but the German had to fight for it, as on the very first lap, when he got into a tangle with Bruno Senna and Sergio Perez, ripping off the Red Bull driver’s back exhaust panel. Even if the latter two drivers had to retire, Vettel carried on, knowing that one wrong move in the Renault Engine could lose him the world championship.

But the start produced light rain, and a few laps after the start, the rain increased, and many drivers on slick tires now had to pit for intermediates. Romain Grosjean unfortunately never got back to the pits, as the Frenchman spun his Lotus out of the race on turn 11. Mark Webber was more fortunate and spun his car, but recovered to continue the race.

But as soon as the drivers were coming in for intermediates, the rain began to let up, and while other drivers had to change back to hard tires, Button and Hulkenberg had dry tires originally put on at the beginning of the race, and began to pull away from the others. However, because there had been too much debris on the track, officials brought out the safety car, and this ruined the top two leading cars from increasing their lead from the rest of the grid. When the safety car pulled off, most drivers had already put new tires on and taking advantage of this, Hulkenberg passed Button and then was overtaken himself by Hamilton by lap 49. But only four laps later, Hulkenberg tried to pass Hamilton after the start/finish line, and going around the slower Caterham of Heikki Kovalianen, ran out of room and struck Hamilton’s front left suspension, putting the Englishman out of the race and ruining his chance to finish third in the world championship. Hulkenberg was issued a drive through penalty for his actions, which was extremely harsh for a racing accident, but continued on, while Button took advantage of this by retaking the lead for good.

Alonso managed to pass Massa on lap 64 and now trails Button by 21 seconds with seven laps to go. But the Spaniard’s chances of taking first and winning the world title evaporated when Force India’s Paul Di Resta crashed at the last corner, bringing out the safety car for the last time on final lap. This gave the title to Vettel and the German wins the title by three points over Alonso, with Raikkonen finishing his return season in third.

As for the rest of the grid, Webber took an impressive fourth, while Hulkenberg survived to finish in fifth. Vettel clinches the title in sixth, while Michael Schumacher in his final race of his career, took seventh. Jean Eric Vergne was eighth, while Kamui Kobyaschi and Raikkonen took the last two point positions.

For Alonso, it was a challenge that nearly his for the taking.

“I am very proud of my team, very proud of the season,” he said. “We lost the championship now, we lost in Brazil and in other races, and we were very unlucky. But this is a sport and when you do something with your heart, and you do something 100 percent, you have to be proud for my team and we will try again next year.”

As far as Vettel is concerned, he becomes only the third driver in formula one history to win three world championships in a row, next to Juan Manual Fangio in 1956 and Schumacher, who triumphed in 2003. He also becomes the youngest three time winner, breaking the record held by the late Aryton Senna.

“It is difficult to imagine what goes through my head now even for myself," Vettel said. "I am full of adrenaline and if you poke me now I wouldn't feel it.

"It was an incredible race. When you get turned around at Turn Four for no reason and it becomes like heading the wrong way down the M25 it is not the most comfortable feeling.

"I was lucky no-one hit me but the car was damaged and we lost a lot of speed, especially when it dried up. Fortunately it started to rain again and I felt so much happier.

"A lot of people tried to play dirty tricks [during the season], but we did not get distracted by that and kept going, and all the guys gave a big push right to the end."

Mark Gero

A 12 year veteran writer who has covered race weekends for RIS for three years. Also did the same for motorsport.com.For the last two years, I have been a member of AARWBA.

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Volume 2012, Issue 10, Posted 2:44 PM, 11.25.2012